I had this when I was younger. My mother was a devout Catholic - still is, more or less. I went to Church every Sunday, and sang in the choir, and then played the organ for the choir. I went to Communion and Confession. I tried to root out every poisonous tendril of sin from my cracked and grimy soul, and still believed most of the time that I was going to hell.
But I had faith. That God was real. That I needed to follow the rules. That believing was more important than knowing.
I got a little bit older. I read a lot. I looked around some. I started to feel something else.
That we should feel superior to other people because we went to church once a week.
That the people in my church were following the rules they said they believed in.
That 'the road to hell is paved with good intentions' was a kind and Christian thing to say to an anxious eleven-year-old.
That anyone had all the answers.
People call someone a Doubting Thomas if they want evidence before believing in something. Thomas was the apostle who asked to touch Jesus' wounds before believing that he had risen from the dead. Jesus reportedly said about Thomas, 'blessed are those who have not seen, and yet have believed'. I'm thinking Thomas probably felt a little less beloved than the rest of the apostles when Jesus said this.
I once had faith that a man who said he had locked his keys in his trunk on a Sunday and needed a hundred dollars to pay a locksmith so he could pick up his kids in the park was telling the truth. That man robbed me. I once had faith that a man who said he just needed directions to the hospital was telling the truth. That man tried to hurt me. I once had faith that if I had sex before marriage or said Jesus Christ in anger or told a lie that I would spend eternity in agony and torment, and that this would be a proper and rightful thing. So do I want to feel something with my hands or see it with my eyes before I believe in it?
You're goddamned right I do.
My children ask a lot of questions. They want to know how things work, and why they work that way. They will keep asking 'why?' until they understand completely. I think this is a good thing.
That I need the promise of a heavenly reward or the threat of eternal fire to persuade me to treat people kindly, and to refrain from cheating people or hurting them.
I know people who have faith. I don't begrudge them this. Sometimes I miss that feeling of absolute belief. But wedged like a dusty sapphire between my former faith and my present doubt, my constant striving to do well and to add beauty to the world even if this life is all we have, there is something else. Something that comes from loving fiercely, and feeling deeply, and drinking in the flawed and fallen world like wine.
I think it might be Grace.